Return to Telepinu (person)
”The Noble God”
Telepinu was an important deity in Hittite religion and the subject of an epic cycle. Son of the storm-god, Taru, and the great mother, Hatepinu, he personified fertility in both plants and animals. Telepinu’s focus was on plowing, irrigation and crop growth. He was also somewhat responsible for controlling the weather, in particular fructifying rains and storms. He is mentioned in the earliest Hittite records from around 1800 B.C.
This god is often interpreted as a local representation of the dying and resurrection vegetation gods that were popular in the Near East, but not as prevalent in IE mythology. Other examples of this type of deity are Dumuzi in Sumeria, Tammuz in Akkadia, and Osiris in Egypt. It is more than likely that Telepinu‘s worship dates back to Neolithic times in the Near East, and that the god was also the prototype for Dionysus, whose cult came to Greece from Asia-Minor in the early Iron Age.
The epic cycle of Telepinu starts with the fertility-god becoming angry (perhaps at his father) and rushing off (which can be interpreted as symbolizing death). With him, Telepinu took the fertile wind and rains, and the growth of plants and animals. By doing so, he put the land into a great draught which caused widespread famine. The wind would not spread the seed, man and animals would not conceive and nothing would sprout. Telepinu took the earth’s gifts to a grove and fell asleep. Taru, the storm-god and Telepinu’s father, saw what had happened and asked the other gods to look for Telepinu, but he could not be found.
Taru then went to his father to ask advice on what to do about his son. His father said that Telepinu had been angered by Taru, and unless Taru found his son and worked out the problem, he would be killed. No better off, Taru then consulted his mother Nintu (Hannahanna), who told him that she would send a bee to find Telepinu. The bee found the sleeping god, and then stung his hands and feet and smeared his eyes with wax to purify him.
This just infuriated Telepinu further, and in response he caused more damage to the earth. He dried up whole streams and caused great flood at the coast, drowning men and animals. Finally, the goddess of healing was called upon to cast charms on the angry god, and a human male was chosen to pray to Telepinu to stop his rampage. He was finally calmed by the goddess and the human, and restored all of nature to as it had been before (symbolic of his return to life from death).